Cobra ACXT145 Review
Cons: Poor range, hard to operate, poor battery life
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|Price||$29.98 at Amazon||$179.95 at Backcountry|
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|$69.99 at Amazon||$70 List||$29.98 at Amazon|
|Pros||Tiny, lightweight||Easy to use, great range, great battery life, good weather resistance||Small size, solid range, water resistant||Excellent range, has an extraordinary amount of features/settings, good battery life||Inexpensive, small and light, water resistant, has privacy codes|
|Cons||Poor range, hard to operate, poor battery life||Large and heavy, very expensive||More expensive, poor battery life, questionable quality control||Difficult to set up and learn to use, has the capability to get you in trouble with the FCC||Poor range, inaccurate battery indicator|
|Bottom Line||One of our lowest scoring radios, with its size being its strongest asset||Aside from its larger size, this radio performed with excellence all around, especially in ease of use||Battery life and the price are the two weakest points of the X-Talker 36 that otherwise has solid range, small size, and water resistance||Licensed ham radio operators will appreciate the amazing range and tons of features||While it has poor range, this inexpensive radio is our top recommendation in its price range|
|Rating Categories||Cobra ACXT145||BC Link 2.0||Midland X-Talker 36||BaoFeng BF-F8HP||Midland X-Talker T10|
|Range And Clarity (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Weather Resistance And Durability (15%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Weight And Size (15%)|
|Specs||Cobra ACXT145||BC Link 2.0||Midland X-Talker 36||BaoFeng BF-F8HP||Midland X-Talker T10|
|Measured Weight (Single Radio, with Batteries)||3.1 oz||11.0 oz||5.0 oz||7.8 oz||3.9 oz|
|Battery Capacity||300 mAh||2,300 mAh||700mAh||2,000 mAh||1,000 mAh|
|Battery Type||NiMH, Alkaline AAA||Lithium Ion||NiHM, Alkaline AAA||Lithium Ion||AAA|
|Rechargeable?||Yes, also can use normal AAA batteries||Yes||Yes, or normal AAA||Yes||No|
|Charge Via USB?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||n/a|
|Battery Life Test Results (hr:min)||14:20||22:45||11:40||17:40||21:20|
|Frequency Range||462.55 to 467.71 MHz||462.55 to 467.71 MHz||462.5625 to 467.7125 MHz||65-108MHz (FM Receive only) 136-174MHz and 400-520MHz (TX/RX)||462.55 to 467.71 MHz|
|Dimensions (in) Body Only||2 x 1 x 3.5"||3.9 x 2.4 x 2" Body;
3.15 x 2.2 x 1" Mic
|1.30 x 2.20 x 6.10"||2 x 1.2 x 3.7"||2 x 1 x 3.5"|
|Privacy Codes?||No||Yes||121 available||Yes||Yes, 38 available|
|NOAA Weather Alerts?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Clips to Pack?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No (mounts sold separately)||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
At just 3.1 ounces and 5 inches tall including the antenna, the ACXT145 will barely be noticeable in your pocket. This small size comes at a price, as this radio is more expensive than some other options that had better range, battery life, and weather resistance.
Range and Clarity
The ACXT145 was consistently one of the first radios to lose connection as we drove away in our range tests. In a straight line with minimal obstructions, it failed to transmit a call at 1 mile away. It also came up short in our hill test both in good weather and in poor weather. When the radio was in range, it had adequate voice quality and clarity.
Ease of Use
Much like the other radios that use few buttons and no knobs for adjustments, learning to do basic functions like change the volume or channel took some learning time on the Cobra ACXT145. Reading the instructions did make these adjustments clear, but it was not entirely intuitive on our first try.When we had these radios out in poor weather, we found the buttons too small to reliably operate with gloved hands. Even with bare fingers, we found the PTT button to be small and harder to press than most, sometimes leaving us unsure if we were transmitting or not.
When deciding where to carry the radio, you will want to find a place where it won't be pressing the buttons inadvertently. You are unlikely to change the channel accidentally due to the specific button presses necessary to make a real change, but the beeping with each button press could get old as the radio sit sat in our packs.
Weather Resistance and Durability
Cobra does not specify that this radio is rated for any sort of contact with water, so we did not submerge or soak it as we did to some others in the test that have a water-resistance rating. However, it did survive a few sprinkles and trips in a wet backpack. We don't expect it to survive much more than that due to its open Micro USB port and battery compartment without a seal. The casing of the radio feels adequately stout, and it doesn't have any small parts that look prone to breaking. The belt clip on the back is removable by bending a small plastic tab that could succumb to brute force. We were pleased to complete all of our testing and field use with no notable wear except a few minor scratches on this radio. If you do have problems, Cobra backs the radio with a one year warranty.
A nice feature of the Cobra ACXT145 came in the charging options. It came with rechargeable AAA batteries, so you could use the Micro USB plug on the side to recharge, or just throw in another set of AAA batteries if recharging is not an option. In our battery test, a low battery symbol appeared on the screen 14 hours and 15 minutes into the test. Five minutes later, it made its last transmission and beeped a few times to indicate that it was dying. Over 14 hours was a respectable, middle of the road performance in our battery test, but we would have like to have gotten a little more warning that it was about to die.
Weight and Size
This size of this radio is really where it shines. If you are very weight conscious when buying your gear, the Cobra should be on your list. It weighs only 3.1 ounces with batteries and is just about 5 inches tall. When testing, we would easily forget that we had it with us, and it would not feel like a brick pulling on our jacket pocket as some others did.
While this radio was very small and light, a minor increase in weight and size to some other options will save you a few dollars and get you a better performing radio. If you just want a small radio that is reasonably capable, there are options that are a better bang for your buck. However, if you want a tiny radio and don't need impressive performance or weather resistance, the ACXT145 could be a good option for you.
While the Cobra ACXT145 did not impress us in many of the tests, especially with its range, its small size makes it notable and a worthy buy for specific users.
— Gray Grandy